He's back at it!

People who know me know that I belong on the Trail. I've thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (twice),the Pacific Crest Trail and the mighty Continental Divide Trail. I've hiked many of the long trails here in Michigan including being the first to hike both the Ironwood Trail and the Great Lake To Lake Trail. My next big adventure will be the Israel National Trail starting in February 2017.

The purpose of this blog is to keep anyone who is interested informed of my progress and to encourage those who are able to support me in this endeavor.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Big Finish

When last I posted, Beaker, Strider, Snowplow and I were stuck at a motel in Many Glacier, MT, inside Glacier National Park. We were only about 40 miles from the finish but the snow was relentless. 

We finally set out to clearing skies on the morning of September 11th. We had a 28.5 mile day ahead of us with difficult topography and deep snow. Snowplow lead the way and truly lived up to his trail name. I swear, nothing slows him down. Even with footsteps to follow, I struggled in thigh-deep drifts as we climbed higher and higher. Truth is, the snow made it difficult but not necessarily more dangerous and it added a layer of beauty that I could not have anticipated. The temps were perfect, the sun was shining, I was with friends and hiking on the most spectacular trail the CDT has to offer. We hiked above the last of the clouds. We hiked within feet of mountain goats. We stopped constantly to take pictures (none of which did justice to the stunning vistas all around us). Finally, soaking wet and out of strength, we made it to our campsite. It was well after sunset and I didn't have one step left in me. 

Monument day! We got up early and hit the trail right away. I had planned to savor these last few miles but I was so excited, I couldn't slow down. We hiked up the east side of Waterton Lake to the border with Canada. There, in a small clearing, was a stone monument that marked the official end of this trail. We congratulated each other and took tons of pictures. The tour boat passed by and we actually tried to hitch a ride on it but they ignored us. That's okay, my spirits were so high that nothing could bring me down. 

The trail continued north for a few more miles to tiny Waterton Township where we were obligated to call Canadian Immigrations and ask permission to be in their country. They were very welcoming. 

Now, Beaker, Snowplow and I had to figure out how to get back into America and down to East Glacier. Strider was going up to Calgary and home to Montreal. There was a shuttle but they charged $75 per person and that was not in the budget. We set out to hitch hike, like we'd been doing to get in and out of resupply towns since this hike began. Beaker went ahead thinking few cars had room for three. Snowplow and I held up a sign that said 'East Glacier, Montana' and stood at a three-way intersection for hours with no luck. I excused myself for a few minutes to go dig a cat hole in the woods and, upon returning, found Snowplow gone and the sign on the side of the road. That Swiss bastard got a ride without me! Must be the accent. 

It ended up taking me two whole days and four separate rides to get back to East Glacier. Not sure if it's because people don't like to pick up hitch hikers near international borders or because Canadians are skiddish about giving rides but I'm going to write a whole 'nother post about hitch hiking in Canada.  

So now I'm back in East Glacier. I'm going to hang around for a while and attend the Second Annual Hiker Hoopla being held nearby on September 26th. Then I'll board a train for Chicago to visit my nephew, Brian, and ride home from there with my brother, Rob. That puts me back in Michigan on or about October 1st. 

Even with those things to look forward to, I can feel the 'post hike blues' coming for me. I'll write about that in my next post but if you have any advice on how to deal with them,
please leave a comment.  


The snow made it extra special.

Snowplow blazed a trail for us 
Beaker heading up to the Highline Trail

Louis Prevost aka Northern Strider. A genuine badass, he represented Canada in the '76 Olympics 
It's one thing to see mountain goats through binoculars, it's another to hike with them.


Starting to get sunburn here. The snow reflected the sun right onto my face.

Beaker takes a break 
Beaker and I holding up the CDT bandana
After Snowplow finished, he hopped on a bike and rode to Seattle. 
Back at Brownies. I love this place.

Please visit HillierHikes.com

15 comments:

onnavoellmer said...

Great pics! Yup, that snow made everything magical and added a gentle epicness to the finish. Oh, that's a female big horn sheep in your photo, not a mountain goat.

Christopher Hillier said...

Hi Onna! So sorry I missed you back at Brownies and congrats to you and Neon on your thru-hike. Yes, after I looked it up I saw that those were female big horn sheep. I need to fix that. Love to you both!

Anonymous said...

Good for you! What a great journey for you! I'm glad you made it safe and had wonderful friends to be there with you when you made it!
Congrats!!!
Linda Ferrante

Lisa Peru said...

Woot!

Christopher Hillier said...

Linda! Thanks for the kind words and for encouraging me the whole way. Hope I get to see you again when I get home!

Christopher Hillier said...

Kaboom! You are so awesome. Not only did you get me up and over Mt. Washington on the AT, you taught me the importance of supporting the Trail Angel network and about 'paying it forward'. You even took my calls way back when I was just planning this hike. Thank you for alll you did for me.

Anonymous said...

Chris, amazing job! Can't wait to hear all about it. When is the picture show???? Liane

Christopher Hillier said...

Hi Liane! The picture show will be Monday, Oct 27th at 7pm at the Caroline Kennedy Library in Dearborn Heights. Hope you can be there!

Pamela White said...

I'm so happy for you Chris. Glad you got the chance to make that journey. I know it's got to be an awesome feeling. Congrats. See you when you get home.

Christopher Hillier said...

Thanks, Pam. No WAY I could have done this hike without all your help - starting with sending Gary and I off with a bag of goodies for the bus ride to New Mexico. You were awesome the whole way and I'm so grateful. Thank you!

RebelFrankie said...

Congratulations Chris! I was so excited to hear you'd finished! Have fun with your family!

Christopher Hillier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher Hillier said...

Thank you so much!

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